Four unions on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to increase pension contributions for city employees and reduce COLAs.
But Emanuel said Thursday he thinks the plan will pass legal muster, in part because he worked with dozens of unions to formulate it.
From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Two days after four unions followed through on their threat to challenge the mayor’s plan, citing the same constitutional guarantee at the core of the state case, Emanuel argued that he had no choice but to raise employee contributions by 29 percent and sharply reduce cost-of-living benefits.
“We have to do the tough things, the necessary things so people can know that they’re gonna have a retirement, which they didn’t know before because we weren’t doing and they weren’t doing the tough, necessary things to get the pension systems right,” the mayor said.
“We are both preserving and protecting the pension and doing it in a responsible way that brings both reform and revenue together to solve the problem . . . They’re challenging it, but I know we took on the challenge of under-funded pensions and addressed it head-on in a responsible way.”
Emanuel has argued repeatedly that the Chicago pension reform bill is different from the state legislation because the city changes were negotiated with and agreed to by city unions.
On Thursday, he hammered away at that point.
“Twenty-eight of 31 unions agreed to work with us . . . and 11 of them stood up and said they don’t agree with the lawsuit,” the mayor said.
“I think we were actually preserving [their pensions]. And I know the union leaders who worked with us agree because that’s why they agreed to it.”
The four unions that filed the lawsuit: Teamsters Local 700, AFSCME Council 31, the Chicago Teachers Union, and the Illinois Nurses Association.
Photo by Pete Souza